One of the most stressful experiences for a menstruating person is when their period comes and they don’t have a tampon or pad with them. Half of the population menstruates, yet some do not have appropriate access to feminine hygiene products. Tampon Time is an initiative run through the Student Services Committee of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) that provides free menstrual products to undergraduate students. In previous semesters, you might have noticed dispensers with these products in the cultural centers in the Student Union and in the bathrooms of the library. Under the guidance of task force lead Jacqueline Seras, the initiative has expanded to provide products to more locations on campus. The new locations have been offering pads and tampons since the end of November.
“The expansion [from November] is the fourteen large metal dispensers placed across campus,” Seras, a fourth-semester finance major and history minor, said. “These locations include Homer Babbidge Library, the Recreation Center, McHugh, Torrey Life Sciences, Chemistry, Gant West and ITE.”
By adding more locations, the expansion seeks to broaden Tampon Time’s availability and accessibility. The industrial metal dispensers are of much higher quality than the plastic ones used in the pilot program, and thus should last longer.
“This expansion includes an additional gender neutral location on top of our five gender neutral locations in the Union in each cultural center,” Seras said. “This expansion means that more students can access the products more conveniently and more inclusively. Students can now get products wherever they are during their day and on whatever terms make them feel comfortable. We hope to continue to expand to address the needs of every student.”
Tampon Time was started a few semesters ago, but was able to expand and more acutely address students’ needs after Seras took leadership of the initiative last year.
“I became involved in my second semester here at UConn when I felt passion for the project and wanted to expand beyond our pilot program,” Seras said. She discussed the meticulous work that has gone into the project since heading it. “I think the most important thing to remember with advocacy work is that it takes time and preparation. This expansion was started with writing a Statement of Position in May of last year and the dispensers weren’t actually installed until Thanksgiving Break.”
Seras provided some insight into working on an initiative through USG, which offers a strong platform for student advocates.
“USG is a great way to structure advocacy work because it gives a framework and a network to something that otherwise would have been impossible to accomplish,” Seras said. “The basic framework is working within your committee, moving a bill to Senate, working with administration, completing orders in compliance with funding policies and implementation.”
The initiative had previously utilized USG volunteers to refill the dispensers, however facilities now refills the new dispensers with supplies funded by USG.
“For this project, we relied heavily on Facilities and Operations’ Director of Building Services Aris Ristau and his team to get the products mounted and stocked,” Seras said. “Tampon Time would not work without UConn’s facilities team stocking the dispensers on this large of a scale.”
After working on the initiative, Seras describes her work as “equally as rewarding as it is exhausting.”
“When you have a project or initiative that you feel strongly about, getting it off of the ground can be all-consuming,” Seras said. “But it all becomes completely worth it each time I walk past a dispenser or a friend sends me a picture of the dispenser saying that they really needed it. Knowing that USG did something to help students on a large scale is an incredible feeling.”
Along with offering toxin-free products and menstrual cups in the future, Tampon Time hopes to expand to womxn’s health issues in general.
“Tampon Time is going to be giving away free menstrual cups with the help of Office of Sustainability at the Womxn’s Empowerment Fair,” Seras mentioned the fair, which will be take place on March 2 in the Student Union Ballroom. “We acknowledge the impact that menstrual products have over a lifetime so we are hoping to introduce this more sustainable option. Additionally, we are working on a De-Stigmatize Periods Series for [maybe] Fall 2020.”
Seras credits USG and its collaborators for contributing to and supporting Tampon Time.
“USG can’t function without our partners that I mentioned above, including Facilities and Operations and Office of Sustainability,” Seras said. “Additionally, the volunteers who stock the cultural centers, the people who piloted this program three years ago, those who show up every week for the task force meeting and everyone involved in between. For this large of a project, it takes a village.”
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.